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On the international stage, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and Keke Rosberg, all Formula 1 champions, raced Formula Vees in Europe or America at the beginning of their careers. In Australia, V8 Supercar drivers Larry Perkins, Colin Bond, John Blanchard, John Bowe, Jason Bargwanna and Paul Stokell were also graduates of Formula Vee.
The class is based on a pre-1963 Volkswagen Beetle, utilizing a collection of the stock parts to form a competitive race car around a purpose-built tube frame and racing tires. The VW engine, transmission, front suspension, brakes and wheels are stock or modified stock parts. The chassis is a tube frame design and the body is fiberglass or carbon fiber. The intention of this class is for the average person to build and maintain the car.
While it is primarily a class in the Sports Car Club of America, many other organizations have adopted the Formula Vee as a class. Over the years, the rules have evolved to improve performance, lower cost, or to allow replacement of discontinued parts.
In 2008, a brand new ready-to-race car would cost about US $15,000. The car could be bought as a kit for about US $8,000, minus the Volkswagen parts. It costs approximately US $700 per race to maintain.
A top-running Formula Vee will go 120 mph (190 km/h) and corner at about 1.6 g. It weighs a minimum of 1,025 pounds (465 kg) with driver. Each year, Formula Vee is one of the classes at the SCCA Runoffs, which awards a National Championship. Variants of the Formula Vee rules exist in the Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Germany and New Zealand.
A related category, Formula Super Vee, evolved, using the water-cooled 1.6-litre VW four-cylinder engine in higher-tech and faster cars that initially drew much from Formula Ford practice, but later started to bear more kinship to Formula Three or Formula Atlantic chassis. This was successful in Europe for a while, but much more popular in the USA where it ran until the late 1980s.
Another related category, Formula First is run in the USA and New Zealand. This category employs the same chassis with later model Beetle parts, a larger 1600 cc motor other upgraded components such as disc brakes rack and pinion steering.
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